Kearney, Neb. – The fifth-ranked Nebraska-Kearney volleyball team hit .316, had eight blocks and seven service aces to sweep the College of Saint Mary (-14, -10, -24) Tuesday night at the Health & Sports Center. The Lopers (22-1) win a 28th straight home match while the NAIA Flames from Omaha drop to 6-12. CSM’s coaching staff includes two former UNK All-Americans in Samantha (Harvey) Hammond and Cola Svec.
All 15 Kearney players who suited up made an appearance with seven having at least three kills. UNK pretty much rolled through the first two sets and then led 19-9 in the third set. That’s when CSM made its move, going on a 10-0 run. The Lopers, with some young reserves on the court, committed six unforced errors during this stretch.
The two teams went back and forth with the Flames reaching set point on a kill from Lindsey Fiegenschuh. Freshman middle Mackenzie Puckett (Grand Island H.S.) kept UNK in it with a kill, cutting the deficit to one at 24-23.
Coming out of its own timeout, Saint Mary was out of rotation so the Lopers picked up a quick point. Back-to-back Flame hitting errors, sandwiched around another timeout, ended the match.
“We played well for about two and half sets but then got a lesson on how quickly things can turn on a volleyball court. We made a couple of mistakes, that got contagious and then everyone started chipping and making a few,” said UNK head coach Rick Squiers. “Saint Mary is a good defensive team, they serve tough and are well coached. All of a sudden, they started thinking they are going to get one from you.”
Puckett and senior right side Annie Wolfe (Omaha Marian H.S.) had seven kills apiece and both hit well over .500. Next, freshman outside Allison Kuenle had six kills with fellow North Platte native Josie Cox at five kills and three blocks.
Next, Papillion libero Ellie McDonnell had a match-high 18 digs and three of UNK’s seven aces. Finally, sophomore setter Lindsey Smith went the majority of the way and had 32 assists, five digs, two kills and an ace.
As a team, UNK had a season-high seven service errors and were aced five times, tying a season-high set just last Friday at Washburn.
“Lindsey’s having a great year. Not only is she doing a great job of running our offense but she’s our best server, she is starting to become a better attacker and is someone who is emerging as a team leader,” said Squiers.
CSM was led by Dani Carlson, who had seven kills, 10 digs, two aces and two blocks.
UNK hosts Pittsburg State Friday night.